6A46.10 - Rainbow - Water

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Rainbow - Water
Dispersion of Light & Electromagnetic Radiation
Area of Study:
Electricity & Magnetism
Beaker with Mirror Backing, 35 mm Slide Projector, Slit Slide, Overhead Projector, Clear Glass or Plastic Cup, Water, and Mask with 4 Inch Hole.

Place the slit slide into the 35 mm projector and direct the light towards one end of the beaker filled with water.  Once focused correctly a fair rainbow should be produced.  The reds and oranges will be really apparent but the blues and greens are only produced if the apparatus is in proper alignment.  NOTE: The intensity of the spectrum can be greatly increased by attaching some type of mirror backing to the back side of the beaker.

A circular rainbow can be produced on the overhead projector.  Place the mask with 4 inch hole on the projector.  Then place the clear glass cup in the hole and fill to about 1/8 inch from the top with water.  Use a piece of cardboard to block the exit beam from the lens system.  When the overhead is turned on a circular rainbow should appear on the ceiling.

A rainbow from a drop can be simulated by filling a round flask with water.  Place a large cardboard mask with a hole in the center in the middle of the table.  Place the flask at the same height as the hole and on one side of the mask.  Place the filmstrip projector on the other side of the mask, pointing through the hole and at the flask.  Turn on the projector, and the rainbow should appear on the same side of the mask as the raindrop.  A secondary bow can be seen if you look closely.

An interesting outdoor activity would be to take a Polaroid filter and look at a rainbow.  The rainbow will be quite bright in one orientation, but will have a reduced intensity when rotated.  This polarization is due to the way light is reflected at the back of each raindrop.

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